Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnel work still not finished as delays continue

Renovations to the Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnel are still being finished – months after it was officially reopened.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 5:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd November 2019, 5:33 pm
The pedestrian tunnel
The pedestrian tunnel

It had been hoped more than half a decade of delays, false dawns and disappointments had been put to bed in August 2019 when the historic crossing beneath the river began welcoming visitors once more.

At the time, bosses said they were just waiting for new lifts to be installed in September to finally complete the project, estimated to have cost more than £16million.

But it has now been confirmed it could be as late as December before all the work is done and travellers can make full use of the tunnel.

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A spokesperson from the North East Joint Transport Committee, which is responsible for the crossing, said: “The inclined lifts are due to be completed in the next few weeks and we expect to have them fully operational in December.

“Unfortunately, there have been issues with the final commissioning which we expect to be resolved soon.

“We apologise for any inconvenience.”

The pedestrian tunnel between Jarrow and Howdon, which first opened in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain and took four years to build, officially reopened on August 7 after years of delays and spiralling costs.

The budget for refurbishment, which started in 2013, was originally set at £6.9 million but has now risen to £16.2 million – and could rise higher, due to delays caused by problems including contractors going bust and the discovery of asbestos.

And by the summer bosses on the project had decided ‘rather than keep the public waiting’ they would push ahead, despite work on the new ‘inclined lifts’ still awaiting completion.

At the time, this was partly blamed on Italian summer holidays, prompting a ‘total close down’ for the firm contracted to install the lifts.

Instead, the public have been told to use existing vertical lifts, although they have also been warned this could cause queues as they can only hold two or three people with bicycles at a time.

The ‘inclined lifts’ will run alongside the original wooden-tread Waygood-Otis escalators, which were the longest in the world at the time of the tunnel’s opening.